Tina Fey answers questions from alumni
Q: Describe your experience in the scene painting class required for a drama major. Was it as humbling as mine?
—Dan Meinehan (Col ’81)
A: Yes, I think we had a theater tech class. I don’t know that we had one specifically dedicated to scene painting, but yeah, it was humbling, because you realize you don’t really know how to build anything. Jenny Bennett and I were the props mistresses for a semester or more, and the show was Amadeus, which is a rough show for props. I remember we had to make a lot of things out of foam. We had to make all these fake, beautiful pastries, and petits fours out of foam, and have them look good, and [drama professor] LaVahn Hoh spent a lot of time with us, just redoing it, redoing it. We probably have some kind of terrible, toxic poisoning in our lungs.
Q: I’m fairly certain that I’m raising a young Tina Fey. How do you coach a 9-year-old girl when she wants to write comedy?
—Melissa Farmer Richards (Col ’93)
A: Oh, let her do it. Let her do it, and have her put it in front of an audience. If she’s writing a skit, maybe she can get two of her friends to do it, or she can do it with someone. Because the only way to know if it’s actually comedy is to get it in front of an audience.
Q: I would like to know more about your experience as a working mother. Did having a second baby change things for you? What advice do you have?
—Sarah Walker (Col ’01)
A: Take any help that’s offered. Anyone that ever wants to help you, let them. I’m lucky enough to be able to afford very good child care. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be possible, and it’s hard enough as it is. Yeah, the second baby, the second baby that late in life … it continues to be comical, how tired I am. But I’m working so much less right now that it’s been very nice to be home with them even more. Now with the two children, I think for me to jump into something as all-consuming as 30 Rock was would be difficult until the little one’s a little bigger. But if the opportunity arises and it’s time to do it, then you just do it.
Q: What was the most important thing that you learned at UVA that helped you in your very competitive field?
—Theresa Meawad (Com ’03, Darden ’09)
A: I think one of the biggest things you learn in college is how to collaborate with other people. And it goes from the simplest thing, like how to live with roommates, and how to be a decent person, through how to work on a project together … the blend of having confidence in yourself, and confidence in your own ideas, blending that with listening and knowing when the other person knows more than you. That give and take is the biggest thing you can learn.